Thursday, February 23, 2012

Harvard Crimson 2012 ECAC Champs!


Harvard Crimson 2012 ECAC Champs!


            The ECAC Trophy has landed safely back in the trophy case at the Beren Tennis Center – where it feels quite at home from previous visits.   Harvard defeated Yale, Dartmouth and Brown on the way to the crown this past President's Day Weekend in Hanover, NH.  Each match was a true test of our mettle.  The Ivy League is getting deeper and deeper with four nationally ranked teams.   To give you some indication of the competitiveness, our first round match against Yale (the #8th seed) might have been 4-3 if the last two matches on court hadn't been stopped.  This is the third ECAC title in four years for the Crimson Netters.  The win will only fuel us to work harder and improve for the spring season.    


            It was a true team effort with nine players contributing wins to the final tally.   Everyone had a moment in the sun.  In the semifinals against Dartmouth, the match started at 8:15pm and went till midnight before the deciding point was played.    It was a packed house with the hometown fraternity crowd who kept reminding us that we were trespassing on their turf.  The match was a back-and-forth struggle with two Dartmouth players finishing up with leg cramps.   Fortunately, we were able to sweep the doubles to give us a 1-0 advantage.   We got a big boost from our top pairing of Casey MacMaster and Alistair Felton who never let their feet off the gas.   In singles, things got really interesting.  While Jon Pearlman notched a big win at the top spot, freshman Denis Nguyen and Alex Steinroeder succumbed to the Big Green in the second and third singles positions.   With the match hanging in the balance at 2-2, Schultz and Chaudhuri were able to right the ship with singles victories at #4 and #6 slots.  Christo Schultz won a huge tie-breaker 14-12 in the second set, saving several set points, and Chaudhuri outlasted his foe from Hanover to clinch.  After our ritual Ramunto's dinner after midnight and some hotel ice-baths to rejuvenate the legs, we slept in a bit.  for the finals against Brown at 5:30pm on Sunday. 


            We came out of the blocks slowly in the championship match against the Bears and were hit with a doubles barrage.  We dropped our first doubles point of the weekend and trailed for the first time all tournament.  But this feisty and fit team was undaunted.   The boys kept their heads down and went to work.   Pearlman plowed his way to his second straight win at the top spot – evening the score 1-1.  Schultz was the next off the court at #4 putting Harvard up for the first time.  His aggressive play, athleticism and huge serve were too much for his opponent.    Freshman Henry Steer was next to get into the act – winning at #5 and putting us within one point of the title.  Henry launched forehands from everywhere, putting his foe under duress all night long.   There were three matches left on court with three freshmen competing.   Steinroeder was up a break in the third set at #3 and Denis Nguyen was leading in the second at the #2 slot, but it was their classmate, Shaun Chaudhuri, who clinched the weekend with a remarkable win in a third set tie-breaker – saving four match points along the way.   Shaun ended the weekend with a lunging, stab volley, drop shot winner that had so much backspin the ball ended up in the net before his opponent could touch it with his outstretched arm.

We appreciated all the support during the weekend from family, friends and fans.  A special shout-out is in order to maestro/sensei/zen master – Laury Hammel – under whose watchful eye Alex Steinroeder grew into a player at the Longfellow Club.  We couldn't have done it without you.  Thanks Laury!  (When we mentioned in the last email that Laury left when Steinroder was down a set and 3-0, we forgot to mention that had another important commitment he couldn't miss!  You may recall that Steinroder came back to clinch the match!


With the Crimson now 10-1, our next stop is La Jolla, CA and spring break! You can view all the scores for all the matches on our website at gocrimson.


Dave Fish
E. Scott Mead Family Head Coach of Men's Tennis
Harvard University Dept of Athletics
Murr Center
65 N. Harvard St.
Boston, MA 02163

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